Depending on the quality of the source materials and their collection and sorting, materials are recovered in different ways: either mechanically, chemically, or thermally.
We at the Schwarz Group focus specifically on mechanical recycling, since it contributes optimally to our goal of a circular economy. Nevertheless, at least at this point in time, the other methods necessarily also find a place in a holistic approach.
The First Choice Economically and Ecologically: Mechanical Recycling
REset Plastic relies on mechanical recycling first and foremost, for example to process our recycled bottles. In mechanical recycling, materials are sorted by plastic type, then ground, washed and processed into recyclates. These recyclates are then used as source materials for new products, and thus take the place of plastics made of new material. Depending on the eventual application, recyclates are provided in the form of granulate or flakes, are melted down again further along in the process and formed into new products and packaging. This method definitely comes closest to the ideal of a closed circular economy, but also requires the most thorough preparation: recycling-friendly package design and precise collection and sorting of the recycled material.
Complex Process with Potential: Chemical Recycling
Up to this point, it has not been possible to recycle soiled plastics or plastics made of composite materials. The only option currently available for such plastics is to recover them thermally through incineration and make use of the residual heat. Chemical recycling is a possible option for recycling the plastic waste which up to now has not been able to be recycled. By using energy and certain catalysts, these plastics are broken down in their molecular structure and are cleansed of certain impurities, e.g. color pigments. A homogeneous, recyclable material can thus be produced from very different plastic types.
Chemical recycling is still a long way from being an industrial-scale application. However, since it offers potential for certain material flows - in particular - soiled material flows, our REcycle action area is also focusing on chemical recycling as part of a pilot project
Our Goal: Keep Materials in the Recycling Loop
Only when all stages in recycling are carried out faithfully, are we able to again produce new products from collected recyclables, as in our 1,5 l still Saskia bottle. This way we can turn our vision of "Less plastic – closed loops" into reality.
If it’s not possible to create new circular products we also try to turn the collected material into recycled products. One example here are the household products, that are available at Lidl and Kaufland.